Millions of racing enthusiasts tune in to watch their favorite NASCAR drivers every weekend. Whether filling the stands in person or watching on television, NASCAR fans are drawn to the action and the sport’s storied history.
It is believed that what would ultimately evolve into car racing began during Prohibition times when “runners,” or those who delivered moonshine, souped up their cars to evade federal tax agents. These runners took pride in evading the law and would hold informal races to determine who had the fastest car and greatest racing chops. Eventually the need for smuggling booze waned, and car racing became a more respectable sport. On February 21, 1948, the National Association for Stock Car racing was officially incorporated, although the first official NASCAR race took place six days earlier. The sport would go on to be one of the most popular spectator activities in North America and is now a multibillion dollar industry.
NASCAR owes its beginnings to mechanic and auto-repair shop owner William “Bill” France, Sr. of Washington, D.C. France became interested in racing after relocating to Daytona Beach, Fla., which he discovered was a hotbed for racing enthusiasts. France involved himself in racing cars and promotion. France felt there should be a sanctioning body to govern the sport, so in 1947, he organized a meeting in Florida to discuss the future of stock car racing and conceived the notion of NASCAR with other members of the racing community.
As NASCAR amassed its legions of fans, it also helped solidify the star status of many drivers. Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt Sr. (and later Junior), Jimmie Johnson, and Jeff Gordon are just a few of the notable drivers who have torn up tracks. In 1998, amid 50th anniversary celebrations, NASCAR put together a list of the organization’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Living members of the group were honored during pre-race festivities for the 1998 Daytona 500.
NASCAR has built its reputation not only on quality races, but also through sponsorship. In the history of NASCAR, there have been only three naming rights partners: RJ Reynolds, Sprint/Nextel and Monster Energy, which took the reins in 2017. Those unfamiliar with NASCAR may think that the NASCAR season never ends. However, there is a defined season. The race season, comprising 38 races, starts in February and ends in November. Races are conducted on privately owned race tracks, all of which are asphalt or concrete. Although NASCAR has southern roots, tracks were built in California and Las Vegas to tap into newer audiences.
NASCAR has been around for decades, and new stars and fans are made each year.